I must start off this blog with this: BRITISH PEOPLE TOAST THEIR CREAM CHEESE AND BAGELS AT THE SAME TIME. Also, they spell bagel “beigel”. I’m not joking. I wish I was, but I’m not. The cashier handed my friend her beigel with cream cheese and directed her to the back of the store to have it toasted.
Jade: “Wait…but… isn’t the cream cheese already on it?”
Jade: “But… if you put it in the oven… isn’t the cream cheese gonna get hot too?”
Man: “Yes. That’s usually what happens when you toast something. We don’t do it how YOU GUYS do it.”
English cuisine is pretty bland. Compared to America, there is a lack of culturally diverse options. The grocery stores are teeny-tiny. Yesterday, the only fruit my Tesco had was pineapples, apples, and blackberries. In America, the stores can be as big as a football field and stocked with twenty different flavors of pop-tarts. I miss it.
Pret, an organic sandwich chain, is London’s McDonalds. They’re absolutely everywhere. The fact that a small-portioned, healthy, all-fresh chain reigns king here is pretty representative of how Londoners approach food. There are no artificial flavors or weird scientific sounding ingredients in any of the products you buy. Here, Coca-Cola is made with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. It makes you feel a little bit better when you’re chugging one back.
My favorite restaurant/haven is Nandos, which is popular for its Afro-Portuguese peri-peri chicken. Nandos isn’t some trendy, underground place. It’s like Britain’s Applebee’s or TGI Fridays. But I don’t care. Their spicy grilled chicken quarters are to die for. By the way, look up “cheeky nandos”. It’s a popular phrase here and you’ll get British street cred if you know what it means. My Resident Assistant mentioned it during his neighborhood tour. “Buzzfeed had to write a whole article on it because you guys just didn’t get it,” he laughed. Immediately after the tour, my flatmates and I went to Nandos hoping an epiphany of understanding would occur while chomping some peri-peri chicken down. It didn’t happen. But when we passed our RA the next day, we nodded our heads and shouted, “Cheeky Nandos, eh?!” He smiled in pride. After a month of trying to wrap my head around it, I’ve finally got it. It’s like when you take an extra long lunch break with your mates to go to Nando’s even though you know you should be back at work. You know… like you’re doing something a little naughty. You’re pulling a cheeky Nandos, mate! (I hope you’re not cringing too hard at my faux-Britishness.)
I’ve had fish and chips, of course. I ordered my inaugural fish and chips from Poppies, which won a National Fish and Chip Award. Yes…there’s a National Fish and Chip Award. It tasted WICKED!
There’s a great sparkling drink here called Elderflower. It’s really sweet, as if you’re drinking pure sugar, but much healthier and natural tasting. Lastly, my favorite snack thus far is Digestives. No… they aren’t what they sound like… They’re a great soft and yummy biscuit covered with milk chocolate. My friend Rachel forced a pack of them on to me and I’ve been addicted ever since.
Overall, British food is pretty similar to American food. They just have nice quirky regional dishes and products. I hope I’ve made you hungry. You should book your ticket right now, skip work, and come on to London to have a cheeky Nandos, mate. You won’t regret it, I promise.
(By the way, totally munching on a Pret sandwhich while writing this. I’m addicted.)